Fish oil (DHA) during pregnancy can reduce incidence of very pre-term births

In pregnancy, eating two helpings of oily fish a week, or taking a fish oil supplement of omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may help reduce the likelihood of giving birth very prematurely.

New research showed that taking DHA reduced the riskiest preterm births: Researchers took 350 women between eight and 20 weeks pregnant and gave them either a supply of capsules, each containing 200 mg of algae-derived DHA, to take three times a day until giving birth, or placebo. It was found that women taking the DHA supplements tended to have slightly larger, heavier babies and to give birth about three days later than the placebo group. Also the placebo group had considerably more births of very early premature births: Five percent of mothers in the placebo group had their babies at less than 34 weeks, compared to less than 1% in the omega-3 group.

DHA, an essential fatty acid, can’t be manufactured in the body and must be obtained by eating oily fish or taking it as a supplement .It seems that at least 600 mg is necessary for the beneficial effect. Eating oily fish during pregnancy is therefore beneficial, up to twice a week. Pregnant women should just avoid fish high in mercury, like swordfish, tilefish, mackerel and shark.

SOURCE: Am J Clin Nutr 2013.


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